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Suffolk Conservatives seal Supreme Court cross-endorsement deal

Suffolk Conservatives last night sealed a cross-endorsement deal for state Supreme Court justices, nominating Democrats William Ford, an Islip District Court judge, and Robert Quinlan, a former Brookhaven and Islip Town Attorney, after Democrats last week chose Conservative Howard Heckman as their candidate.

Conservatives in a bicounty judicial convention at the American Legion Hall in Islip also gave Supreme Court nominations to Conservatives Janine Barbera-Dalli, a District Court judge in Smithtown, and Deborah Poulos, a Family Court judge from Huntington; and Independence Party members David A. Morris, an Islip District Court judge, and Kathy Bergmann, a judicial law clerk to Court of Claims Judge Stephen Lynch.

"We picked some great candidates," said Suffolk Conservative chair Edward Walsh.

The Suffolk Conservatives' action forecloses the possibility that any of the Suffolk Republican Supreme Court candidates, including incumbent Justice Emily Pines and County Court Judge Jack Toomey, will get Conservative endorsement in the November election.

When the Suffolk Conservative-Democratic judicial deal surfaced hours before last week's GOP judicial convention, Islip Republican chairman Frank Tantone withdrew his name as a Supreme Court candidate temporarily and the party substituted Walter D. Long Jr. Candidates have until Oct. 2 to decline nomination and parties have until Oct. 6 to name replacements.

John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chair, said Long will decline the nomination but it was "up in the air" whether Tantone or another replacement will be named. LaValle, before last night's convention, said Conservatives promised in May to back GOP supreme court nominees.

Conservatives say LaValle tried unsuccessfully to make a separate deal with Democrats.

If elected, Ford would be Suffolk's first African-American Democratic Supreme Court justice. Quinlan is law secretary to Suffolk chief administrative Judge C. Randall Hinrichs.

Heckman has been an assistant Suffolk district attorney and a Supreme Court law clerk, and is a court lawyer referee.

Nassau Republicans and Democrats last week made a separate cross-endorsement deal in which each party backed two of the other party's candidates.

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